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In many companies, a great deal of time is still wasted on time-consuming counting work during full inventories. Sample inventories, on the other hand, promise reduced downtimes in logistics handling and, above all, radically restricted resource expenditure. arvato AG has implemented that exact solution for all those involved in large parts of its corporate group – and in a profitable way too.
Complex structures are prevalent on global markets. Competitive pressure rises, while geographical and temporal barriers continue to dwindle. Even companies that are operating on an increasingly global scale and are posting high growth figures are faced with the challenge of reconciling the different business processes in individual countries, as well as keeping up with their global competitors.
Many companies resort to outsourcing and thereby enhance the efficiency of their globally networked processes. For large production companies, supply chain management (SCM) also takes centre stage in this regard. Indeed, large logistics service providers take on their clients’ traditional tasks and are responsible for planning and managing supply chains, for instance. Among others, these include forward logistics and warehousing. One important factor in warehousing is the inventory quality, which must be checked on a regular basis. Inventories and inventory controls can be significantly optimised if sample inventories replace traditional full counts, as they are prone to errors and associated with a high workload.
The counting work in a warehouse can be reduced by up to 95% with special solutions for sample inventories, which leads to substantial streamlining effects. The global corporate group, arvato, also wanted to exploit this potential and introduced the sample inventory solution “Stasam” from Stat Control GmbH in large parts of its warehousing operations. In this way, the company is enabling its customers to optimise delivery cycles and implement just-intime distribution. arvato AG is a global services company that is part of the Bertelsmann Group. 63,000 employees generated sales in excess of €5 billion in 2010, while the operating result amounted to €350 million. In more than 30 countries, the employees implement special solutions for a highly diverse range of business processes located along integrated service chains. Among others, these include data management, customer care, CRM services and all the components that make up supply chain management (SCM) – such as order management, warehousing, shipping, transport management, returns management and repair services.
The corporate group distinguishes between various product line areas, such as its focal point of the automotive industry, whose merchandising items are stored at and shipped from arvato’s premises. arvato is also currently taking over warehousing for print media and merchandising items for banks and insurance customers, and is storing products from mobile phone, netbook or television suppliers, as well as goods for office supplies and store outfitting.
To guarantee its customers optimum inventory quality, arvato has now largely made the switch to carrying out sample inventories with the “Stasam” system from Stat Control. In the corporate group’s complex environment, the requirements placed on a sample inventory and controlling system were very high. A challenging database and server landscape had to be integrated into the solution and a sophisticated authorisation concept implemented. In parallel, the client-server architecture had to be able to reliably process the large warehouses’ enormous data throughput. Therefore, several inventories should therefore be possible at the same time within the complex warehouse structure. The software needed to be multiclient capable for this purpose. Several basic populations can thus be processed at the same time, and inventory controls can also be specifically performed throughout the year.
These periodic checks are necessary if responsible risk management is to be guaranteed both within the corporate group and for the client. “We have leveraged a great deal of potential with Stasam and now work on inventories much faster and with far fewer people,” reported Customer Manager Markus Obergassel, who is responsible for arvato’s Hightech Mobile Network Operator business unit. Mr Obergassel sees great opportunities to expand the use of “Stasam” within the corporate group. The logistics divisions in particular have been working with this software up until now. In addition to arvato, the global Bertelsmann network includes the RTL Group, Random House and Gruner + Jahr.
The aforementioned Hightech Mobile Network Operator business unit provides the perfect example as to just how “Stasam” works in practice. With its logistics service, it acts as a strategic partner for international mobile operators, among others. Its works in both forward and reverse logistics, in the context of which goods are collected directly from the manufacturers on the mobile operators’ behalf, and shipped both to end customers and to an extensive network of retailers. The daily throughput is 15,000 to 17,000 shipments, and the warehouse has 7,000 storage positions.
Originally, the business unit did carry out full inventories, resulting in considerable resource expenditure. More than 80 employees spent an entire work day recording all the inventory items. As a result, the inventory procedures should become faster, more efficient and, above all, cheaper.
Today, only about 40 employees have to work a half-day to complete a sample inventory. The time and cost savings are correspondingly high. The reduction in working hours also has an impact on the inventory quality, since the work is less monotonous and the likelihood of errors is therefore drastically reduced,e.g. differences that result due to counting errors. “The aspiration to reduce expenditure by 50% as part of the inventory audit was achieved 100%,” smiled Mr Obergassel.
arvato is extremely satisfied with the support. Mr Obergassel continued: “Stat Control’s customer advisors are always available at the other end of the hotline for our employees if they have any questions, and they come up with solutions immediately too.”
Regular meetings are also held for training purposes, so as to optimally integrate the individual requirements of arvato’s customers into the software. arvato’s key accounts come from an extremely wide variety of industries and therefore work with very different auditors who need to confirm that the inventories are being processed properly.
Stat Control, which was established 20 years ago as a spin-off of PriceWaterhouse, specialises in this diversity. The certified systems comply with the guidelines set down by the Institute of Public Auditors, whereby international regulations must be taken into consideration by the systems as well. Stat Control also offers a range of in-depth consulting services covering the use of sample inventories in inventory management.
“Our employees in Supply Chain Management are satisfied. Less time is wasted on laborious counting work, and we can offer our global customers both reduced downtimes in logistics handling and, above all, radically restricted resource expenditure,” summed up Mr Obergassel. Since arvato has only had positive results with Stasam in practice, it is now also recommending the solution to its own new customers: “The efficient sample inventory has become a strong argument for me when in talks to initiate new business relationships.”